After initial approval and finalizations were made to sign a contract establishing a regional food market in Madison, plans for the 12-block public market were delayed Tuesday in order to allow the city’s new mayor and team of City Council representatives the chance to revisit the proposal’s details.
The City Council, under Mayor Paul Soglin’s recommendation, moved to refer the contract for another 30 days in order to gather more information on whether the site originally planned to host a mimic of the city’s current farmer’s market is the best location.
Soglin said he had been briefed on the plan the day before the council meeting and when addressing the council, he expressed his concern on the retail possibilities of the site in question.
“The biggest concerns I have in regards to the contract are what should go on blocks 105 and 88,” Soglin said. “In other words, the question should not be, ‘Should we put a public market in?’ but, “What are the best uses of the site”?
Soglin said the plans to add an underground parking garage and to renovate the Monona Terrace area are not an issue, but said the plan to build the public market must be postponed to gain perspective on where the optimal location for such an operation would be.
“Before we go further, I’d like to have a little more time to meet with plan staff to make sure we covered the issues and are in effect making the right purchase in regards to what we are requesting under this contract,” Soglin said.
The council made a unanimous decision to reconsider the market, but only after heated debate on the issue.
Ald. Larry Palm, District 15, asked City Attorney Michael May for clarification on the regulations involving the mayor’s veto power on the issue.
May said Soglin could not veto the contract because it was already adopted by the council in a previous session and said the plan would have to be adopted at some point, regardless of the move to refer.
Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, is a sponsor for the plan and said even though she has put in hard work to consider the plan as it is in its current form, she accepts the referral.
“We have studied the location … we looked at this issue many times for many years and decided that this site was head-over-heels the best site for many reasons,” Rummel said. “We’ve come a long way, but I respect the decision and it’s fair to look at the contract again.”
Rummel told the council the goal of starting a public food market in Madison was to build a linkage between Wisconsin’s regional food with a focus on being a small business generator for the area.
The plan would also be geared toward redevelopment of the area by replacing the Government East Garage with a new parking structure and by adding better accommodations near Monona Terrace.
Funds for the high-speed rail were taken out of the plan under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, but office space and retail areas have also been proposed under the plan to bring in jobs.